Why “House Hunters International” Is my Secret Insomnia Weapon

published Sep 7, 2019
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Credit: HGTV

A sad fact of my life is that I love sleeping, but I’m not very good at it. On the rare nights when I don’t toss and turn for an hour before falling asleep, I often wake up around 2 or 3 am and just… lay there for hours. And because I function best on nine hours of sleep, this is all very frustrating—and as you can probably guess, frustration isn’t a great state of mind for falling asleep. What a vicious cycle!

I’ve tried meditation, melatonin gummies, lavender-scented lotion, candles, Sleepytime tea, and pretty much every other sleep remedy you can probably think of. These all have had varied amounts of success, but few reliably help me actually fall asleep like watching “House Hunters International”. And I say that as a compliment.

Don’t ask me why, but the original “House Hunters” just doesn’t work—I find the international spinoff to be so much more charming and pleasant to the ear. I don’t know when I started watching the stalwart HGTV show that follows people as they pick from three possible homes in a new country, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that host Andromeda Dunker‘s dulcet tones were making me feel—dare I say?—drowsy.

Maybe it’s because I love travel, maybe it’s because it’s so incredibly low-stakes that I don’t need to pay full attention, or maybe it’s because there’s always some kind of soothing, strummy music in the background, but whatever the reason, I’ve learned this to be true: Listening to Dunker describe a couple’s struggle to compromise on city vs. country living, or old world charm vs. modern features is more powerful than any white noise machine.

So instead of reading (tried it) or progressive muscle relaxation (nice idea, but nah), here’s what I do when sleeplessness tries to win out: I can queue up an episode on Hulu (thankfully, there are several seasons available), stream it on my TV with my Chromecast, turn the volume down to a dull roar (usually around level 24, so it’s just loud enough that I can hear it, without it being so loud that it actually keeps me awake), and then watch prospective buyers or renters stroll the cobblestone streets of Aachen, Germany, until my eyes flutter shut. Because it’s on Hulu, it’ll just keep playing, taking me to Brazil and Indonesia, before it realizes I haven’t touched a button and hours and turns itself off. Sleep timer, who?

No, I usually never find out if someone springs for the updated loft in the city center that’s $500 above their budget, but you know what? I don’t care. Not making it to the end of an episode is the point of the whole viewing experience, anyway.

Do you have a go-to show you watch when you can’t sleep? Tell me about it in the comments!